Officials at the Alliance for Quality Education are looking towards working with the Board of Regents to push for a few more things.

“We commend the Board and the commissioner for their proposals to address fluctuations of enrollment, fully funding expense-based aids and adjusting the formulas to increase funding for instructional material,” read AQE’s statement. “In addition, we are in full support of the proposals to fund the Dignity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives such as funding creating culturally responsive and sustaining resources, creating multiple pathways to graduation, and increasing the department’s capacity.”
AQE officials hope the board adds an increase in funding for the expansion of universal Pre-K outside of New York City.

In other Regents news, the board announced the cancellation of all January regents exams for the second year in a row. Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. stated that the overwhelming effect of the pandemic would be too much for students, teachers and parents to bear.

“Educators, school staff, communities, and families have taken painstaking efforts to ensure a safe and healthy school year,” said Young. “Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the recent acceleration in COVID-19 infections, and continuing upheaval the virus has caused in schools across the state, this decision is the right one. New York’s students will continue to have access to high-quality coursework while allowing districts to prioritize the health and safety of our school communities.”

As a result of the cancellations, the Regents Board has rejiggered the requirements for diplomas. By the end of the 2021-’22 school year, those who qualify for diplomas sans regents exams have to “be enrolled in a course that would ordinarily culminate with a January 2022 Regents Examination and earn credit for such course of study, Complete a make-up program to earn course credit; or Be prepared to take a required Regents Examination to graduate at the end of the first semester.”

“Given the unevenness of this school year with the pandemic still ongoing and the acute social-emotional needs of our students, canceling the January Regents exams is the right choice,” read an emailed statement from the New York State United Teachers. “We thank Commissioner Rosa, Chancellor Young and the Board of Regents for recognizing that our educators are still assessing their students, preparing them to receive their diplomas and setting them up for success after graduation without this round of state exams.”

The Education Trust–New York (Ed-Trust NY), however, is approaching the regents actions with a bit of trepidation. Dia Bryant, executive director for Ed-Trust NY, said that cancelling the regents exams was necessary, but that there needs to be a measuring stick of some sort to find out if students have the ability to be promoted to higher grade or graduate high school.

“We appreciate that the New York State Education Department is prioritizing student safety amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases,” said Bryant, in an emailed statement. “Yet, the cancellation of Regents exams removes one critical way of knowing if our students are college and career ready or if they have made up lost academic ground in the past two years.

“Given the ongoing nature of pandemic, NYSED should act now to reimagine how to administer these critical examinations,” continued Bryant. “An overreliance on the use of exemptions is harmful and graduates too many students into uncertainty.”

A recent study by the NYSED in March found that high-need districts disproportionally used regents exam exemptions to graduate students. High-need districts in large cities, urban and suburban areas collaboratively make up 52% of all areas that used exemptions to graduate students (large cities were 32% overall).

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